Jose Mourinho believes he has nothing to lose in publicly criticising his Manchester United players.
The United manager accused his team of being “scared to play” after Saturday’s 2-0 win against Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford earned a place in the FA Cup semi-finals.
Luke Shaw was hauled off at half-time and Mourinho indicated the left-back does not have the “personality” or “class” to play for United .
Although Mourinho accepted Scott McTominay was below his usual standards against Brighton, he hailed the 21-year-old midfielder’s response to a poor individual performance.
Other United players, however, drew the ire of Mourinho, who accused unnamed members of his team of lacking the stomach for the fight and believes those who are good enough to play for Manchester United will cope with his harsh criticism.
“My calculation is that without pressure they don’t perform well – what can I lose?” Mourinho said at a post-match media conference.
“The ones that are always there [in the team] are the ones that will be always there. And that’s an example of personality.
“You have the kid [McTominay] that didn’t play well at all. And I told him already, he was the first one that I spoke to individually in the dressing room, instead of being critical of him I was positive with him.
“Because you played very bad, you played very bad, but you did the basic things one player has to do. One of the basic things to do is to keep emotional balance, to play with that red shirt – that is a heavy one, that is a heavy shirt to wear.
“The kid, it was his worst performance by far, he was there and he had that body to wear that shirt. He was not afraid to play. He played bad. But every player can play bad.
“To feel not comfortable to play – ‘Please, Mister, take me from the pitch’ – I felt that. I felt that. So I have nothing to lose in relation to that.
“The strong ones are the strong ones, the young ones under pressure and the criticism all improve – or don’t improve.”
Manchester United are out of the Champions League but have now moved into the semi-finals of the FA Cup and are clinging to second place in the Premier League with Liverpool just two points back.